What Went Down at Shambhala Training: Level 1

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” 
— Shunryu Suzuki

I’d like to share my thoughts on Shambhala Buddhism and their Level I training course:

This weekend I attended a three-day meditation training, hosted by my local Shambhala Meditation Center. Before getting into this specific course, I’d like to introduce Shambhala for those who aren’t familiar:

>> Read the rest of this post on Elephant Journal <<

If you’d like to chat more about any questions or apprehensions, shoot me a message and I’ll gladly discuss with you!

In Soul, Danielle.

,

Learning to Live with a Broken Heart.

“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”
– Leonard Cohen

It’s easy to aspire to strength.

It’s easy to offer a solid shoulder to someone we love when they’re suffering. It’s natural, we are empathetic beings after all. We conjure thoughtful quotes, or recommend a good book, or wrap them in our arms and say, It’ll all be okay, it just takes time.

But I don’t feel okay. And every day that passes feels like a years worth of grief. I’m heartbroken. In the past, I’ve learned how to move on. I’ve put my head down and got through it. I got dressed and went to work. I sent well wishes into the Universe with hope it would reach the Soul of the person I was letting go.

And then I felt better.

But this is different. You are gone and it feels like my heart left with you. No matter how I try, nothing can make me feel better right now.

Not the yoga classes, the healing sessions, the Skype calls with loved ones, or the healthy dinners and Buddhist podcasts I force myself to gulp down every night. Not the morning meditations, or even the long cries.

I’ve been on what I considered to be “the spiritual path” for about three years now, and it seems it has all led me to this moment. I’m drawing on every tool I know. It’s easy to be smart and strong when nothing’s wrong, but what about now? What happens when we’ve lost this much?

Feeling helpless, I bowed before my altar this morning and prayed, What more can I do? Help me.

And, somehow, through the roaring tidal wave of emotion, the soft and tender voice of Soul arose: Learn to live with your broken heart.

And the tears came again. I got my answer.

All week I’ve been searching for the vision of a future where my heart was mended, but nothing came through. I felt hopeless, but now I understand.

My heart will never be the same again, but I no longer want it to.

Now there is nothing between me and the heart of the world. The slightest eye contact brings me to tears. A genuine moment of compassion surges through my body like a river. I feel everything—everything I built a life around trying not to feel.

And while I may be broken, now I am free. I can finally put down my shield.

I know now I can no longer walk through Life guarding my heart like precious china. I cannot truly love that way either. It doesn’t matter how much affection is in me if I can’t touch the world or my beloved, just like a china cup can’t serve its purpose sitting behind glass on a shelf.

I don’t want my love to be precious, like some untouchable piece of art, I want it to be ordinary, every day, and real. Just as it is built to be. I want to hold my heart in my hand every morning, glide my thumb over the chips on its edges, and know it is still worth giving. I want to offer it as I would offer my most cherished belonging. Because it is.

What more can I give than my genuine, broken heart?

In breaking, I am no longer afraid. Now, I want to love so hard that I break this much every day. Because in breaking like this, I am broken open. I am forever changed. Even if it’s what we fear most, this is actually the greatest blessing we can receive in this human life. This is how we know our whole hearts.

That isn’t to say that I don’t need healing. Because right now, my porcelain pieces are scattered on the floor. It will take great attention and care to bring my heart back together again, but I’m willing to do it because now I understand why it’s worth it. I know what I was missing.

In this moment, I am reminded of the Japanese art form called kintsugiTranslating to “patching with gold,” this craft is the process of repairing broken pottery by rejoining the clay pieces with a golden lacquer. The fractures become the most valuable places. We don’t discard and replace a perfectly good cup, we honor its breaking, illuminate the cracks, and in doing so create something even more beautiful.

So I’ve given up trying to fix this, or even feel better, and in doing so I’ve restored my faith that somehow this heartbreak has opened me to a lifetime of genuine, raw, human love.

Now it’s time to master this craft—this healing—trusting one day, when I set the table for two, you will walk through my door with your kintsugi heart and learn how to love mine too.

In Soul, Danielle

,

Finding the Freedom to Fail

One would think by now, what with all my professional experience, that I would be a seasoned and savvy fucker-upper.

But, alas, whenever I drop the ball, struggle, or straight-up bomb, I feel like a failure. A failure at said task, but also a failure at failing.

Such is the plight of the chronic perfectionist, a title I used to consider resume-worthy but now realize is one of my greater hinderances.

I’ve recognized a similar pattern between myself and other Type As. We were the classroom kids who sat in the front row and quickly mastered our textbook’s lessons. We were the know-it-alls. But the problem with “knowing it all” is there’s little room for anything new. Maybe we can get by this way for a while, but eventually our luck runs out.

>> Read the rest of this post on Elephant Journal << 

In Soul, Danielle

,

Breaking-Up With California

~

It’s hard to write this. It’s even harder to publish.

There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to admit I’m moving on. Will they think I’m a failure? Do I think I’m a failure? Am I letting the people who love me down by not coming back? The river of insecurity rushes by me faster than I can offer compassionate answers.

But here’s the hard truth: California never felt like home. So I left.

We had a good run. This feels like one of those break-ups between two good people who just aren’t right for each other. I planted so much love there, and despite the fact that for a while there we were on thin ice, I feel like we turned it around in the end. After years of trying to make it work, I finally understood that what’s right doesn’t take so much effort.

I’ll spare you all the sappy details. Because let’s be real, California has been through so many break-ups by now it will surely move on to someone new by the end of the week. It has a way of attracting sparkle-eyed adventure girls like me.

Regardless, I’d like to share a bit of what California meant to me during our three-year rendezvous.

Moving to Los Angeles was my first attempt at making it in the real world. I thought I was equipped for it, which I find unceasingly amusing now. Is anyone ready for the world at 22? I learned more about myself leaving the Midwest than I ever thought possible—and in such a short amount of time.

That’s what coastal energy does to us, I believe. There’s a sense of impermanence that feels heightened. The tides ascend and then decline back to Mother Ocean’s blue belly right as we dip our hands in to catch. The breezes carry seasons of rain and colorful wanderers into town to change the scenery and tell stories rich with lessons if we listen closely.

It was exciting but damn, was it ungrounding.

You know what else California taught me? Fucking up is normal. It’s human nature. If our Souls were perfect and had it all figured out we wouldn’t be on Earth, wobbly-kneed in these depreciating bodies. We’d be living it up, floating around somewhere golden and celestial.

We’re here to make mistakes, learn the lessons, and evolve.

Not every chapter is meant to be comfortable. Not every chapter is meant to grow roots. I’ve moved ten times in the past three years. I lived on the top floor of a Hollywood studio with a primo view of Capitol Records, and then I lived in a tent. In the process, I lost a lot of “stuff” I thought I couldn’t live without.

I did, in fact, live.

The funny thing about comfort is it makes change a hell of a lot scarier. We get slow, we get a little sleepy and complacent. The roaring fire of our dreams shifts from its perch under our asses and onto the back burner, slowly going out. Our new dream now is one day installing granite over the kitchen sink. Not me. I’m grateful for the upheaval since 2014 because in never settling down I never settled for less than my heart’s calling, even when I didn’t know what she meant or where to go next. Not this? On to the next thing.

Perhaps the greatest gift California gave me, though, was trust in myself. She has pushed me to endure more than I ever thought possible. I used to believe I couldn’t handle the demands and pressures of this world. That everyone wanted something from me and I would always come up short. I relied on others to rise to the occasion when shit hit the fan. But that changed. I’m my own guardian now, and it feels so good. I know, at all costs, I will show up for myself. Now I can leap off the most daunting cliffsides, into the darkness, without a clue of what lies below, because I trust that I know how to fall. How to heal. How to listen to Soul and take that next first step all over again.

Thank you, beautiful Golden State, for guiding this adventure. Thank you for breaking me so I could grow my bones back stronger. Thank you for holding me, and now, thank you for letting me go.

And just like that, it was over.

Next stop, Boulder.

In Soul, Danielle

,

Hello, Raw Soul

Update: 04/09/17

This post was written about 6 months ago when I was still living at the Buddhist retreat center where I spent the last year. It provides some background to my journey before Raw Soul that may be of interest. Isn’t it humbling looking back to our past? xoD

||

So I find myself here again. At the end. At the beginning. That bittersweet moment where the two kiss, unsure if it’s hello or goodbye. Because the truth is, I was feeling a little off for a while. A little bruised. A little raw.

Two years ago I walked the stage of my university with arms and heart wide open. Life was my oyster and you’d better believe I was gonna get the pearl. Well, Life pushed me in the deep end and I did something resemblant of a sloppy doggy paddle. Let’s just say I got a rude (but necessary) awakening.

I’m a Midwestern lady, who after years of quietly reading tarot cards and spiritual texts on my bedroom floor packed up and moved to Los Angeles. I was seeking a community to support the budding intuitive inside me. On this avid search, I met all kinds of people. Starry-eyed crystal healers, soft-spoken angel readers, acupuncturists, herbalists, atheists, lovers, haters, brainy psychologists, big dreamers and dream dashers. Every one of them a teacher. I’ve fallen in love, and I’ve had my heart broken. I’ve been lied to and cheated. And then I’ve cheated and lied. I was messy.

But I’m trying to see the beauty in the mess now. Because that mess got me this far! And sometimes we need to be in the mud, I sure did. Until one morning when I woke up and knew I was ready to step out of it. It was time for a change.

So I thanked all that shadowy shit for what it taught me, bundled up my lessons, and welcomed in a new way of being. I donated nearly all my belongings in exchange for living and learning at a Buddhist retreat center in California’s Redwood Forest. It was the scariest thing I’ve done in a long time, but it was also the right thing. (Don’t you hate it when that happens?) But, of course, there were the sparkly perks too. After a couple years of throwing myself into LA’s meditation community, I really wanted to go to the source of the practice and learn from the ancient texts. And I knew there were some seriously wise, dedicated teachers on the other end to greet me. Looking back today, I see how that hugely daunting risk has already been immensely rewarding only two months in! Soul’s totally saying, “I told you so,” right now.

As far as my intentions for Raw Soul, I’m remaining open to how it unfolds. I want to share as much knowledge as I can. To create an open space to learn and heal together in hopes that one (or many) of you will happen upon exactly what you were ready to hear. Funny how the Universe works that way, isn’t it?

Today, I toast to beginnings, and to welcoming the Unknown. Thank you for being here, and for joining me! I look forward to discovering what the future holds.

Big Love, Danielle

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